Decisions 6

Two 7 Hour Gaming Sessions Of AD&D

2nd Edition (Spikehelm Campaign World)

The Back Story: (aka the idea that became the setup for this game)
Continuing from Episode 5.
This was our third epic game weekend -- totalling 14 hours -- with 7 hours on both days. I was running the same gamers from last week, and again the time just flew. Hopefully I've remembered it all correctly.
Our 3 adventurers had spent the last 5 days having an Undead Curse removed and then recovering from the its effects.
The Adventurers: (aka the Player Characters)
Name Class Level Gender Race Brief Description
Daniel Blackthorne Battle-Mage 5 Male Dracôrian (Human) N/A
Vlas Cleric 3 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Maldis Scout (Thief) 4 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Session Start: Friday - 5:00 pm
Location: Four Towers Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 9th day, in the month of Cooling (Autumn), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Last Quarter
Daniel offered to magically identify the daggers that Maldis took off the Orc Shaman, and learned a few things about them, but his still weakened state stopped him from learning everything.  Afterward he needed another 2 days to recover, which allowed the others to build up their strength as well.
Knowing that they didn't have the power to take down the Necromancer at this time, they talked with the Loremaster to determine their best course of action -- after a long discussion, it was decided to secure the local settlements as best as they could against her, which meant that they needed to be able to respond quickly to any incursions.  As the Priests readied supplies and teams of people to fight her, the team headed out to search all the other settlements for Gateways that Maldis could use.  They travelled to the closest trading settlement which was 2 days to the East.
When they arrived, Maldis investigated the only stone structure -- their Temple/Meadhall -- for an Arcanite Gateway but found nothing.
While he was doing that, Vlas and Daniel went with the high priest to the captain of the guard's home as he had been very ill, ever since he had stepped on a piece of bone -- they discovered that he had a similar but weaker affliction to what the Necromancer did to them.  Vlas prayed to his god to cure the man and sacrificed all of his spells to empower that prayer.  Moments later the wound split open and created a nasty mess in the room as all of the vile putrefaction sprayed out -- he directed the family to burn anything touched by the pus as he himself left before he was ill.  The man was still not safe, but he would last long enough for them to take him back to the Monastery.  Because they were going that way, the high priest asked them to guard the dozen new acolytes he was sending to the priesthood via wagon -- it took 3 days for the return trip.
That done, they again headed out to a second settlement that Maldis hoped would have Arcanite ruins near it.
Luck was not on their side, as on their first night out, they were ambushed by bandits and were relieved of everything but the shirts and pants they are wearing -- even their boots were taken.  Once the bandits disappeared, Daniel went a little crazy as the bandits took his ferret along with the packs and horses.  He ran pell-mell through the autumn fields after them, but in the total darkness before pre-dawn quickly got lost.
Maldis used his training to follow after him and after 4 hours they found him passed out, with bloody hamburgers for feet.  As everyone was barefoot, Vlas took the time to heal their feet and, with some sense-talking, they headed out after Cudgleigh at a more sensible pace that wouldn't kill their feet.
While tracking the bandits, 4 Orc raiders found them -- while Daniel loudly argued with Vlas.  As they charged down on them, Vlas reacted quickly and created a long, deep trench directly in their path -- all 4 riders were dismounted as their horses fell into it.
Maldis used the powers of the Shaman's magical daggers -- they worked twice, just as they had for the shaman -- killing both Orcs that he hit, but on his third throw, they missed and tumbled into the grass.  Daniel got slashed in the guts but returned the favour by firing 3 magical missiles into the offender's face -- flipping him ass over teakettle and killing him.  Vlas got stabbed twice before he could get his spell off, but he still managed to cast it and stopped the Orc in it tracks with a command of "Hold!"  Maldis was able to recall the daggers and then used them in melee to dispatch the remaining Orc held by Vlas' spell.
When they checked on the horses, two were still fit to ride and so they rode them in the direction Daniel could feel Cudgleigh -- he was unconscious but alive and hopefully still with their horses and gear.
They rode throughout the night -- these were Orc warhorses, trained to ride in the dark -- and in the witching hour they found a small freehold down in a valley and directly in their path.  Daniel sensed that Cudgleigh was down there, so Maldis agreed to scout the place before the dawn's light rose.  He managed to get close but a misstep on the wall had him tumbling inside and crashing down on a doghouse -- which woke the entire complex as the poor dog howled in pain.  He managed to get out and back to the team -- with only a small dog bite to the back of his leg.   They fled into the nearby woods.  They rested the remainder of the day, so that Vlas could recoup his divine powers and spells for when they went back to retake their property.
Session End: Friday - 12:00 am
Location: 3 Days West South West Of Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 18th day, in the month of Cooling (Autumn), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent
Session Start: Saturday - 4:00 pm
They returned to the freehold at first light but were turned away -- the Freehold was busy preparing to defend itself against Orc raiders and wouldn't allow strangers inside.  Daniel mentioned that they were priests of the High Lord and that they might be able to help them -- when asked to prove themselves as true priests -- there were many charlatans roaming the lands -- he created a glowing symbol in the air between them.
This caused the leader to pause and reassess them.  He asked for them to heal a young boy, without the aid of potions or other chicanery -- Vlas delved the boy to find him suffering from a common childhood ailment -- something easily cured with his divinely granted magic.  The purple energies of the curative spell enwrapped the boy, focusing mostly at the head and chest.  This forced the leader into agreeing to aid them, so as not to anger the priests of the mountain fortress.  As the others were talking, Maldis overheard a young girl asking her mom if the priests could also heal her weasel -- which Daniel immediately asked about when told.
The leader stated it was not worth their while and he wouldn't waste their time with such a minor thing -- Daniel insisted that they would be glad to help the girl's pet as a further showing of their desire to help -- it turned out to be Cudgleigh.
Vlas asked where the girl got the animal and was told that one of their young men gave it to her, but he was out hunting at the moment.
Daniel healed Cudgleigh through the magical bond that linked them together, but he over did it and passed out from the effort.
The leader asked what is going on and the others explained -- he became enraged and a quick discussion behind the walls ensued.  He returned and told them he would recall the hunters immediately and signalled to someone behind the wall as a set of coded horn blasts pierced the air.
The 6 hunters, boys really, returned on foot from the nearby forest -- Daniel easily recognised one of them as being a bandit.  The leader violently questioned the boys, striking down their leader, who he called Brod, as he demanded the return of the goods and livestock stolen from the strangers.  The boys quickly ran back to the woods without another word.
The leader, who the boys called Firring, started to hyperventilate and moved off and then started to punch the crap out of the corner post of the far wall.  They watched this odd thing, and Vlas was reminded of an old tale he read, about men who took on the aspects of a predator and used it to increase their battle prowess -- they were also a danger to those around them if they ran out of enemies to kill.
Maldis saw the boys returning to the freehold and rode out to help them -- as they didn't appear to know how to ride.  A much calmer Firring returned as Maldis brought the boys in.  The team checked their gear and all the important things were there.  Firring then kicked each of the boys through the gates of the freehold -- all except for Brod.  He grabbed Brod by the neck and hurled him at their feet and stated that he had disowned the boy and that they can do whatever they please with him -- he will not see or speak to him again and has banished him from the freehold.
Within, the other boys are beaten by the others for risking the freehold in such a stupid manner.
Maldis not wanting anyone else to overhear walked over to Brod and in a whisper, asked where his skulls were -- Brod responded that they left them at their first campsite for fear of Orcs finding them through the skulls.
Firring offered that they could stay within the freehold, which they accepted.  While there, they saw that this settlement didn’t have enough supplies to survive the upcoming winter and that their palisade was poorly made due to the soft ground.
That night, there was a harsh rain-and-ice storm that coated everything in an inch of ice.  Daniel took some of their supplies and moved the apathetic Brod -- who was still sitting where he had been hurled down -- into the nearby forest to shelter him from the storm.  He stayed with him through the night.
The next morning they agreed to stay and aid the settlement as best they could.
Maldis disappeared with Brod for 2 days -- to retrieve the skulls and the get the measure of him.
During that time, Vlas used his divine spells to harden the ground -- setting the walls and buildings fast into the ground.  He also meditated and prayed to the High Lord for some way to aid the freehold in surviving the coming winter.  His prayers were answered the next morning as the entire valley was lush with ripe crops -- enough that everyone was needed to harvest it.  The fields were also plentiful with rabbits and other small game that the children were sent out to hunt -- their meat and fur were as needed as the crops.
Maldis returned in time to help out, but Brod, being banished, slunk back to the forest camp.  Daniel watched over Brod for the first few nights and set tasks for him to do at the camp during the day -- afterwards the others shared the watch with him.
It took 5 days and everyone to bring in the crops and prepare all the caught game for winter storage.  Once that was finished the team decided they really needed to continue on their mission and were getting ready to leave, but Firring asked them to stay for Celebration of The Hunt, which was only a day away -- it would be rude after all their work and help that they not attend.
In the twilight before full night, the entire Freehold gathered at the newly remade gates.  As the team arrived, they noticed that many were dressed in leathers and were armed with various kinds of short blades or axes held in their hands.  The air was tense as everyone waited for the Full Moon to rise, for when it did those that wished to honour the old ways would run in The Hunt.  This was also the night for those youngsters that were coming into adulthood to prove themselves as such.  The only people not present were Daniel and Brod -- they were still at the camp in the woods.
The moon rose and the people roared at it as they charged out into the night.  The youngest hunted the area near the freehold and were watched over by the elders that no longer Hunted.  The youngsters with something to prove ran the hardest -- shouting and leaping the whole way to the woods.  The adults moved with determination, but saved their strength for where it would matter.
Daniel, hearing all the shouting and people running through the woods, became concerned until Brom explained what was going on.  The Hunt was what it sounded like, and status and honours would be won by those that brought in the largest or most dangerous kills.
Both Vlas and Maldis were swept up in the moment and joined in, hooting and running right along with the youngsters.  Vlas was the first to take down something -- a gigantic boar -- which was an impressive beast that had tried its hardest to gore him to death, and for this trouble he scored 8th largest catch.  Maldis took most of the night to track down his, but when he finally did, he faced off against a huge 20-point buck that was in no mood to be killed by a little man with a pointy needle.  In the end Maldis won the battle but he also had to haul it back to the freehold.
During his struggle to pull the great beast back, he heard the sounds of a fierce battle.  Leaving the buck behind he investigated and found Firring fighting a great bear, but as the fight progressed he could see that the thing had the head of an owl.  After an exquisite set of exchanges with his axe, Firring defeated it.  Together they brought back their catches just before dawn.
The rest of The Hunt had gone off without a hitch -- even the wounded were minor things that would heal within the week.  Firring's Owlbear garnered first place and re-affirmed his position as their leader.  Maldis' buck was the second largest -- as an outsider, this gave him quite the status in the freehold.
That day, the 1st day in the month of The Hunt, they feasted on what was caught -- Maldis was even presented with the decorated skull and horns of his catch.  The feasting, drinking and carousing went long into the night. Vlas and Maldis were in the centre of it -- due to them each having one of the top ten catches -- until the last of the freeholders turned in.
Later the next day, they each woke up in the warm embrace of the young women that had taken a fancy to them during the Feast.  But their need to resume the journey to the Trading settlement heightened as a fall storm threatened.  With Brod in tow, the three friends headed off -- but not before two of them received heated kisses goodbye from their new "friends".
Location: Four Towers Monastery, Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 2nd day, in the month of The Hunt (Autumn), in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After The Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous
-- To Be Continued --
Session End: Saturday - 11:00 pm